Tradition. A word I can’t say without singing. I think it has a different meaning to everyone, although I have to admit it’s something I rarely thought about before I moved to Georgia.
Tradition is everything in Georgia. I’ve never seen a country so sure of its identity, yet so hypocritical in it’s actions. Tradition ties in easily with religion which I’ll try to avoid for now, but just like anywhere, how can you consider yourself Christian or religious when you can be so full of hate?
Not that Georgians are, anything but. However, they tend to use tradition as an excuse when behaving illogically. Why do you hate gay people? Tradition. Why do you only prepare your potatoes the same way all the time? Tradition. Why do you toast incessantly? Tradition.
It’s a good thing and a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the strength of tradition and the impact it has on every day life here. Not that it’s always a bad thing but I notice how it’s used in a derogatory way, even with Georgians.
Tradition for Georgia means their land, wine, toasts, religion, habits and literature. Great, and amazing how so many people can be tuned in to the exact same habits and opinions because of tradition is also quite something.
My issue is when tradition is used as an excuse. It’s halting progress here, in particular the movement towards Europe. Europe is gay, secular and debauched. Unfortunately such drastic attitudes are felt across Georgia, in particular the villages and amongst the older generation. I had the pleasure of meeting one prime example just last night…
I can’t help but feel like Georgia is cutting off its nose to spite its face. The new generation of adults here are just as open-minded and enthusiastic as any other European. They’re resentful towards the harsh rules and traditions society imposes and are currently rebelling against norms with shaved heads, protests and social media campaigns. Great!
The older generations (of course not all of them, but easily 90%) are determined for Georgia to continue the way it has. Many of them have a warped impression of both the West and Russia and have never been encouraged to think critically, so any kind of abnormality isn’t received well. I’ve never seen such obviously-biased TV programs and news broadcasts as I have in Georgia, and rarely do people question it.
I know I’m bitching, and to be honest it’s probably because of my lack of understanding and astonishment after meeting this particular man yesterday. I won’t go into details, but he did say how gay people should be shot then followed it with a completely unironic toast to “man’s love”… I was laughing.
My point is, regarding Georgian tradition, that it’s so strong. To the point where it’s smothering. By all means be proud and excited about your country, but focus on your incredible artists and poets instead of how many khinkali a magari katsi can eat.
Now, as for Europe, tradition isn’t so obvious but it’s there. I’ll talk about the UK only for now since every country has their own quirks, most of which you can’t identify unless you’re native or lived there long enough. Georgian tradition is presented on a platter the day you land in Novo Alexeyevka.
As a young Brit, I can confirm that we don’t hold our traditions in the Royal Family, tea or Fox Hunting as much as you’d expect. Okay, maybe tea… But traditions are more personal, even though family seems more distanced than in the Southern parts. I can tell you that tradition for me involves Wallace and Gromit, nose-tingling vinegary chips from the Rainbow, the inevitable sleaziness of any club and Scatty Jackie at the bus station.
It varies from person to person, but these little things are everywhere. You’ll notice them in the queue at Tesco, as one plump, red-faced woman in a beige cardigan works herself into a frenzy at the state of the plastic bags on the counter.
Not saying this is good either, and Brits definitely don’t have such a strong identity as Georgians. This is something Shota found really odd when he first came to the UK, he confessed to me recently. Everyone has their only little habits that somehow fit together and aren’t questioned. Why did that guy bring his own pot of mustard to the carvery?
I feel like identity isn’t such a problem for Brits as you’d expect. Everyone is quite content doing their own thing and have enough arrogance not to feel the need to make a show of it. Usually. In Georgia I feel like they’re more than proud of their traditions, they’re nervous about it and how long it will stay, so enforce it upon you until you’re forced to eat mtsvadi so not to be considered snobbish.
As much as I like the subtle traditions in the UK, I feel like it’d be nice to have a national dress and some excitement over the flag again, but these people so easily turn into Britain First minions so maybe it’s best not… Despite my bitching, this point goes to Georgia, for the pure durability of their habits that hold strong without turning to extremist/ anti-Islam/ anti-anyone-darker-than-you spouts of hate.
I love Roast Dinners but that doesn’t quite balance out the relentless bigotry I’m seeing coming from people I thought were educated. I don’t agree with how the Georgian Orthodox Church conducts themselves either, but atleast they’re understanding and compassionate to other people and religions, and that’s really all it boils down to.